Congress, TDP set for poll alliance in Telangana
Last week’s decision by Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) to call for snap elections hastened the Congress-TDP alliance which will be formalized this week
Hyderabad: The dissolution of the Telangana assembly has triggered an unlikely alliance in the state, with the Congress set to tie up with one-time rival Telugu Desam Party (TDP). Last week’s decision by Telangana's ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) to call for snap elections hastened the alliance which will be formalized this week, senior party leaders said. The alliance will be effective for the assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
The TDP was founded in 1982 as an anti-Congress force, but a new common enemy in the ruling TRS seems to have bridged the gap between the two. K. Chandrashekar Rao, currently caretaker chief minister, recommended dissolving the legislative assembly on 6 September.
“The alliance is going to happen and a formal announcement can be expected soon. More than us, the TDP needs it; else, they lose a chance to stay relevant in the political scenario in the coming elections,” said a Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) office-bearer, who did not want to be identified.
The TPCC leader added that the Congress is looking to get the “settler” votes from those who have settled in and around Hyderabad from the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh (as the TDP is considered strong in those areas). In the 2014 assembly elections, the TDP had won 15 (of the total 119) assembly seats out of the nearly 30 constituencies in and around Hyderabad, mostly in areas believed to have a lot of migrants from Andhra Pradesh.
Apart from that, the Congress, which is the main opposition, is also expecting to get more support from backward classes (BC) voters, considered the TDP’s backbone in the state. BCs occupy a little more than 50% of Telangana’s population. A senior TDP leader, who did not want to be identified, did not rule out the alliance but declined to talk more about the plans.
When contacted, TPCC secretary M. Vikram Goud said a decision will be taken on the matter very soon and was confident of his party giving the TRS a run for its money. “Discussions are ongoing and we have to wait till the party takes a final call. We were fully prepared for early elections as well,” he said.
In the 2014 assembly elections, the Congress won 21 seats in Telangana, but has since lost eight MLAs to TRS. The TDP lost 13 MLAs to the TRS and one to Congress. Meanwhile, the TRS, which had won 63 seats in 2014 now has over 90 MLAs due to defections. Since then, the Congress has emerged as the main opposition in the state and is hoping to come to power in 2019.
Apart from the TDP, smaller parties in the state like the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the newly-formed Telangana Jana Samithi (which is the political wing of the Telangana Joint Action Committee, which fought for the separate statehood) are also said to be in talks with the Congress. However, no formal announcement has been made yet.
Meanwhile, setting the stage for an early election in Telangana, the Election Commission has advanced the electoral rolls revision in the state. In a communication dated Saturday, the EC said it has decided to publish the final electoral list by 8 October as opposed to the earlier schedule of 1 January next year.
Telangana’s chief electoral officer (CEO) Rajat Kumar in a release said this was being done in the “wake of a premature dissolution of state assembly” on 6 September. The new schedule says the publication of the integrated draft electoral roll will be on Monday, the period for filing claims and objections is from Monday to 25 September, the disposal of claims and objections will take place by 4 October, updating database and printing of supplement will happen before 7 October and the final electoral roll will be published on 8 October.
Mint’s Anuja in New Delhi contributed to this story.